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Holy Names grad helps launch research satellite

Dream comes true
Posted on 06/15/2023
jack wawrow

At precisely 11:47 a.m. on June 5, Jack Wawrow’s childhood dream came true.

That was when a rocket, carrying a satellite designed by a team that the Holy Names Catholic High School graduate helped lead, was launched into outer space from Cape Canaveral Florida, bound for the International Space Station.

Wawrow, who graduates this year from the space engineering program at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, was there to witness the take-off.

“After the rocket launched, I got to say a few words to the team and I thanked all of them and told them that this was a childhood dream for me,” he said. “It was a huge moment to see the rocket launch. It was very moving for me.”

Part of the cargo on the rocket was a tiny satellite with a big job. The CubeSat, designed and built by Wawrow’s ESSENCE team at York, is equipped with a high-tech camera built by the Canadensys Aerospace Corporation, and will be launched into orbit from the International Space Station. 

The purpose of the CubeSat - which is about 10x10x30 cm - is to orbit the earth and capture images of ice and permafrost in the Canadian Arctic that can be used by other academic and government researchers studying climate change. It will remain in space for about three years and depending on their download rate, should transfer a new image back to the ESSENCE lab at York every two or three days.

“It’s important information for climate researchers, because as far as I know, there aren’t many other space craft whose primary goal is to capture information exclusively about permafrost in polar regions,” said Wawrow. “It’s also an important project because one of the goals was to transfer knowledge and skills to undergraduate students. There are a lot of students graduating from this program who have gained a better understanding about building satellites, and that’s going to be very beneficial to the Canadian space sector.”

Being part of the team was also very beneficial for Wawrow. The recipient of a Schulich Leadership scholarship in 2018, he has accepted a position as a space systems engineer that begins in September at Magellan Aerospace in Winnipeg.
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